All-Star Game Has Lost Its Way; From Voting Process On Down

Jonathan Papelbon’s dissing the notion of Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig’s being named to the National League All-Star team initially brought a reaction of agreement.

A month in the major leagues, regardless of how spectacular it might be, is not a large enough window.

“The guy’s got a month,’’ Papelbon said. “Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he’s going to make the All-Star team, that’s a joke to me.’’

PUIG: Let him play. (LA Times)

PUIG: Let him play. (LA Times)

Then, the more I thought about it, nearly everything connected with the All-Star Game is a joke, and pretty much has been since interleague play.

The luster from the All-Star Game has gradually worn off because there’s no edge to the rivalry of the leagues. The home run derby was once a novelty, but has gotten boring in much the way the NBA slam-dunk turned on the yawn machine.

Bud Selig’s decision to have the All-Star Game winner determine home field advantage of the World Series was gimmick. Selig knew the game was missing something, so he added that condiment. Kind of like putting ketchup on a piece of meat.

A century of tradition was brushed away by the gimmick of interleague play.

Also falling into the category of gimmickry is the voting process. When the voting was returned to the fans, which violated the privilege by stuffing the ballot box, it was initially as a reward to fans that paid their way into the park.

Ironically, now Major League Baseball encourages fans to stuff the box, but to its credit does observe limitations – you’re now only allowed to cast 35 votes. David Wright deserves to be on the team, but the trumping for his was shameless. There’s a logo in the dirt behind home plate telling fans to vote.  Imagine how tasteless it would have been had they gone through with the link to the dating website. It’s that way in all cities.

Also puzzling is adding a serious tone to the game by having it determine home field in the World Series, yet having each team represented, even if it means adding a player not worthy, which is to not field the best team.

The only team mandated to have a representative should be the host team. After that, there should be no push. If a team doesn’t have a worthy player, why should a deserving player be deprived?

The game has changed, and not for the competitive better. How can there be when Barry Bonds hoists Torii Hunter on his shoulder after robbing him of a homer in Milwaukee? You see that and think of Pete Rose plowing Ray Fosse at the plate and wonder what is wrong with that picture.

Two plays in two eras showing two ranges of emotion.

Starting pitchers would work up to three innings, with no limits when the game went to extra innings. In 1967, in Anaheim, which went 16 innings, Catfish Hunter pitched five innings. Starters such as Brooks Robinson, Tony Conigliaro, Harmon Killebrew and Roberto Clemente had six at-bats.

No longer.

If you weren’t paying attention, then the 2002 game in Milwaukee should have sealed it for you. That was the game called a tie after 11 innings because both teams ran out of pitchers. Also, part of Selig’s legacy.

The teams ran out of pitchers because nobody worked more than two innings.

That was also the year, you might recall, when Sammy Sosa put on a sweat-pouring, steroid-fueled display during the home run derby, then took a limo back to Chicago after he was removed from the game.

Aaah, such memories.

The bottom line is the All-Star Game has long lost its spice and its spot in baseball lore. It doesn’t have that special feel to it any longer. So, if Major League Baseball wants to continue making it a gimmick and surrounding the event with celebrities and novelties, then who why should anybody care if Puig is named.

The only reason Papelbon cares is because he has an old school mentality with a passion about his sport, something the keepers of the game have long since abandoned.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

17 thoughts on “All-Star Game Has Lost Its Way; From Voting Process On Down

  1. I agree John, the All-Star Game has lost it’s luster. I remember as a kid watching this game, wanting your league to win, rooting for your league’s stars, especially your Met representatives to make you proud. Then, things started changing. Interleague play combined with players changing teams and leagues as soon as their contracts allowed, the combining of the umpiring staffs, the desolving of the league offices and presidents took away the old rivalry and for me anyway the importance of the game. Now fans are encouraged to vote up to 35 times for the starters etc. It brings new adage to the old political slogan from Chicago, ‘vote early and vote often’. Some may like the All-Star Game now as its constituted, but for me now the All-Star break just means its a chance for my stomach ulcers to mend for 3 or 4 days because being a Mets fan I know the second half of the season is not going to be pretty lol !

    • Trumping for votes is definitely sad. Let’s not, however, think this was only done for Wright. Having watched a decent # of Giants games on the MLB Extra Innings package, Giants were at least just as guilty touting their players, including Sandoval.

      • Ray: Absolutely don’t think it was done just for Wright. All teams do it. The Giants are a master at getting the vote out.-JD

  2. John, I couldn’t agree more. I remember those days of Rose, Fosse, etc. Fosse was never the same player, btw.

    But the game was much more entertaining and seemed to have more meaning.

    -Paul

  3. Gee, you love that total jerk Papelbon so much turn your site into a filly blog. Anything good for baseball you are agIainst. If you were around in the 40′s you’d be pining for the Negro Leagues to be saved because they represent the good old days of baseball. Gee wiz, this kid brought the game some excitement an clowns like Papelbon are bitter because he has now a washed up closer that only people who hate anything new till care about.

    • Seriously? A player who has one month in the bigs should start in the all star game?

      I never even heard of the guy.

      • they you obviously haven’t been following baseball. the dude’s beast.

      • Are you serious that after 1 (one) months in the major leagues a guy should be selected for an All Star Game? One month?? Oh, how standards have been reduced to nonsense!

        • I agree with most of what everyone is saying, the all star game does not having meaning anyone and since it does mean a whole lot to playoff bound teams its quite disturbing, baseball in general is going down hill from umpires, to players to beat writers who vote legends into the HOF its all publicity and this point, but one thing I do have to admit is I do think puig should be in the all star game, it shows the upcoming talent, the all star should be the best players for a season, not what accolades they have on a whole, that’s like saying vote jeter in this year because hes one of the greatest ball players of the last 15 years. Puig is having an amazing start to his career and he should get recognition and be elected into the all star game even if its a short sample.

        • Exactly what standards, given how many votes Jeter has, are you referring too?

          • Ray: There are no standards when it comes to the All-Star balloting. That you’re allowed to vote up to 35 times is beyond being a joke.-JD

  4. First of all, anyone who hasn’t heard of Puig hasn’t watched sportcenter in the last month, because the kid is on every 5th minute or so (basically whenever LeBron is not).

    Anyway, we really need to give up this idea that the All Star game is going to return to what it used to be, it USED to be that the leagues mattered and that we rarely got to see a matchup like Doc Gooden vs. Don Mattingly, so when the All Star game made that happen, that was a special thing to see. It was a fun spectacle and the game meant a little bit more because the players associated themselves with their league and their “brand” of baseball and it was a fun rivalry.

    However, we are NEVER going to return to that, and to be honest we never should. Like it or not, Interlegue play is here to stay, and let’s face it, it has been good for this league. Yes we have hurt the All Star game with our changes over the last couple of decades, but in doing so we have more baseball fans in seats and more baseball fans in general. Interleague play, the Wild Card and the second wild card have all added to that immensely.

    The All Star game is just a fun exhibition now, and I am okay with that.

  5. ever since the commisioner allowed macgwire sosa and bonds to get so big on steroids, has this game continue to tarnish its rep. so in my opinion what ever happens happens

  6. I used to love the ASG back in the ’70s and ’80s. Now I don’t watch any of it. I don’t care if Wright starts, and I don’t want Harvey to pitch in it. (Don’t want to see him hurt or waste the innings).

    Can’t take inter league play anymore either. Let’s go back to NL playing the NL and the AL playing the AL until the World Series. Maybe then the ASG will be fun again.